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Cambodia PPM aims to restore historic leadership in regional pharmaceutical production

Dr Kok Sokhim
Dr Kok Sokhim, the first Cambodian scientist to produce pharmaceuticals. He passed away aged 78 in 2011. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Cambodia PPM aims to restore historic leadership in regional pharmaceutical production

This year, Pharma Product Manufacturing (PPM) will celebrate its 55th anniversary of producing Kinal, a Cambodian paracetamol tablet.

Kinal was the first Cambodian produced medicine by Cambodian pharmacist Dr Kok Sokhim in September 1960, according to PPM CEO and founder Dr Hay Ly Eang. Dr Eang and his company took it on to keep on producing the Cambodian paracetamol.

“[In the early Sixties], Cambodia was among the leading countries in research and production of pharmaceuticals in Southeast Asia and Kinal is one successful example of a tablet that was recognized regionally,” Dr Eang said.

Dr Hay recalls that Dr Kok Sokhim researched and produced Kinal after Cambodia got its independence from France, and “that he [Dr Kok Sokhim] always thought that the Cambodian health sector was also set for independence.”

And Dr Eang proudly added that “Kinal was produced four years before the French made Doliprane, therefore this is Cambodia’s pride in pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately everything has been lost in the civil war in the 1970s,” he added.

Dr Hay Ly Eang
As producer of Kinal Dr Hay Ly Eang carries on the legacy of pharmaceutical pioneer Dr Kok Sokhim’s. Moeun Nhean

However, with the founding of PPM in 1996, the old state of affairs was reestablished.

The European Union funded 50 per cent of the total investment of some $600,000. After only two years PPM produced medicine for local consumption and even started exporting pharmaceuticals to francophone African countries such as Guinea.

As of today PPM produces 50 different medicines and became a major contributor to the local health sector and expanded exports to 20 other countries in Africa. The company is healthy with ten million in capital and will increase pharmaceutical production in the near future.

Dr Eang added that PPM is planning to expand exports not only into Africa but also to neighboring countries of Cambodia such as Vietnam, Lao and Myanmar as soon as the company achieved licensing.

PPM is not only producing standard analgesics such as paracetamol. Currently the company is focused on the development of a new medicine called KEM (Kampot’s Effective Micro-Energizer) which is made from plants and serves as dietary supplement.

“Now, KEM is only waiting for its license in Cambodia and in some countries in Africa and Europe, and I hope that it will be ready for the Cambodian market in March before it will be exported into other countries,” he said.

Dr Eang also stressed that if the relevant medical science institutions of the Cambodian government increasingly supported pharmaceutical products in Cambodia, the country would realize a lot of economic potential through the study and production of medicines.

“In the past, our neighboring countries were behind us in the production of pharmaceuticals but they have long surpassed us because their governments are paying much more attention to the sector.” Dr Eang added.

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